MAAC title on the line this morning
In a game that can be seen on ESPN2 at 11 am EST, Siena will visit Marist in hopes of winning a share of the MAAC regular season title. A Siena win today would also give surprising Niagara a shot at the title, so long as the Purple Eagles, winners of their last seven, take care of Rider on Sunday. Siena's Kenny Hasbrouck and Marist's Jared Jordan make up one of the better guard matchups in a game this season, but whichever team can get something from their bench today will win this one. Of the two teams, Marist (12-0 when their bench outscores the opponent's reserves) gets a little more on the average from their reserves, such as Wilfred "Spongy" Benjamin and Shae McNamara. Foul trouble, especially to the big men on both teams, could force both coaches to go past their comfort levels when it comes to how to use their bench. Due to the home court advantage, I like the Red Foxes to claim their first outright MAAC title ever. And if you're a Red Fox fan going to the game, be sure to wear white.
The Ivy League race, if games go as expected today, will come down to Yale at Penn next Friday night. I, like many, expected the Quakers to simply run away with the league's automatic bid without much of a challenge (especially with the way that Princeton has played at times this year). But this could be a sign that the Ivy won't be "Penn, Princeton and the other guys" from now on. Yale head coach James Jones has to be up for consideration when voting for league coach of the year, and the duo of Casey Hughes and Eric Flato has played good basketball all season. All that's needed now is a Senior Night win over Columbia to set the stage for next Friday.
In the NEC, Sacred Heart got themselves a huge win at Monmouth last night, led by a 16-0 second half run sparked by guards Chauncey Hardy and Drew Shubik. The Pioneers will play Quinnipiac in a battle for the two seed in the NEC Tournament, important due to the fact that the two position guarantees two home games (so long as you win of course). Who can challenge Central Connecticut State for the league's automatic bid? I'd probably look at the three right below them in the standings (SHU, Quinnipiac and FDU). While a Mount St. Mary's or Robert Morris is capable of pulling an upset, and Monmouth is the defending tournament champ, I don't see those three providing much of a challenge to the Blue Devils. As a matter of fact, Monmouth needs either a win or an LIU loss to make sure that they qualify for the tournament. A loss combined with an LIU win puts the Blackbirds into the NEC Tournament, thanks to their 82-78 win over the Hawks back on February 20th.